Endings and Beginnings: Lessons and Possibilities (Part 2: Ideas for a Fresh Start)

Hudson Bay in winter

The previous article covered the top three lessons learned from last year’s experiences. In this article, I’ll share three ideas I intend to implement in the upcoming year. The first two can be used with any activity, and the third can turn into a lifelong practice.

So without further ado, here are the three possibilities.

1. The art of the right pace

Moving at just the right pace (not too fast, or not too slow) has been one of the biggest challenges for me.

My modus operandi is usually feast or famine. For example, most of the articles on this site were written in a day or two. Once I know I’m writing, then that’s all I’m doing (in 20 – 30 minute intervals), till I hit publish. Then I’ll stop for four days (or more).

I have failed in using the same method of high intensity in other areas, mostly when it comes to learning or forming habits. While this method can get good results, it can also lead to stress and burn out.

So the alternative is: do the activity for the shortest time possible, and keep at it day in and day out. This worked well for me when I first learned meditation a few years back.

But, again, it didn’t work with everything (mostly with resuming activities that I’d started in the past). I got bored with taking things slowly and practicing for a few minutes. I experienced this, for example, with learning to play the piano (high intensity didn’t work either).

The right pace is the most effective rhythm of action. We continue to perform the activity with optimal energy and focus, and sustained motivation.

With the right pace, we feel we want to do something, and we do it without feeling bored (too slow) or stressed out (too fast).  And more importantly, we can maintain such pace on a regular basis.

I can’t think of a specific approach to find the right pace other than trial and error. So this is going to be something I’ll experiment with and share with you as I learn more about the process.

But for now, just take a few moments and look into the pace that has worked, or didn’t work for you, in the past.

2. Desires: Reset + undeclare

Dreams and desires infuse our lives with meaning and motivation. But when they remain unfulfilled, over an extended period of time, they can become a drag.

I’ve had more than a few desires that remain just that—dreams on a piece of paper. I start, stop, start again, and stop again. And the same stuff remains on the same list.

This year I’ll do something different: desire reset. Press delete, and start new.

Sometimes we get too invested in the dream. After all we put so much effort into it (for example, buying tools, training, or even starting). We wouldn’t want all of that to go to waste. So we keep investing in the same dream—but without much tangible progress.

It’s best to drop everything and start afresh. What dream would you like to pursue today (not last year, or the year before)?

If this question is not enough, try the following.

If I were to start today, would I pursue this dream or not? In other words, would I spend time on this project? Would I buy this book, or course?

What we wanted in the past may not be what we desire today. If the same thing comes up again, then, in all likelihood, you really want to do it. You need to get started and clear the obstacles. Fear and doubt are the most common dream killers.

Once you know what you want to do, keep it to yourself. This is what I intend to do (it worked for me in the past). It’s best to work quietly and calmly on your dream than make a big fuss about it.

If you need to share your dream for someone to hold you accountable, I suggest you share it with one person, or a select few, if you feel you need more support—but no more than that.

Declaring desires for the world to see hasn’t worked for me. It actually backfired.

If, however, there is a lesson to be shared from any experience, I’ll gladly share it, once I’m clear about the results.

3. More reflection

This year I was so busy tracking that I didn’t have time to use the information that I had meticulously recorded. Stopping at the end of the year and looking back is a good practice. But, as I see it, it’s not enough.

The best insight usually comes from looking back and reflecting on what we’ve experienced. And this is something I intend to do more often. I’ll reflect for a few moments at the end of the week by going through my journal. Then I’ll do a monthly, quarterly, and then an annual review.

Even if you don’t write things down, you’ll greatly benefit from mentally looking back and reflecting on your experiences.

Reflection helps us learn from our past experiences and put things in perspective. As we look back, we realize that some of the challenges we had were not that bad after all. We managed just fine. And that gives us confidence and strength.

I’ve introduced the above ideas to hopefully help you (and me) in becoming more effective and efficient, more aware, and most importantly more peaceful.

And with that dear friends, I’ll wrap 2014. Again thank you so much for being part of my life. I appreciate every one of you. I love you and wish you the very best in 2015.